Asbestos in lungs

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How do you know if you have asbestos in your lungs?

Prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to tiny asbestos fibers becoming lodged in the lungs.

The most common signs of asbestos being present in the lungs include shortness of breath, cough and chest pain.

Pleural plaques may develop prior to mesothelioma or lung cancer and are a sign that a person had enough exposure to be at risk of other diseases. 

What happens when you have asbestos in your lungs?

Asbestos fibers are very thin and can easily escape into the air, posing a health hazard.

When you breathe the tiny asbestos fibers in (which are naked to the human eye), they can get stuck deep in the tissue of your lungs and will remain there for a long time, eventually causing scarring and inflammation.

Over time, this can lead to several different types of asbestos-related lung diseases and lung problems, including the following:-

What are the symptoms?

Each of these asbestos-related diseases will have different symptoms, which tend to vary depending on which disease you have and how much damage it has caused to your lungs.

Common symptoms of some of these asbestos-related diseases may include shortness of breath, a persistent cough, chest pain or tightness in your chest, appetite loss or nail deformities/finger clubbing (enlarged fingertips).

In most cases, any symptoms of having asbestos in your lungs won’t start to appear until approximately 20 years after exposure to asbestos.

Although it can take from as little as 10 years for any symptoms to appear right up to 40 years.

Is there a test for asbestos?

Your GP will diagnose an asbestos related lung disease based upon your past exposure to asbestos, any symptoms you’re experiencing, a physical examination, and they will also arrange for you to have certain tests done like a chest X-ray or chest CT scan.

This combination of testing, physical examination and looking at your past history with asbestos will help to determine if you have any asbestos in your lungs, and will help medical professionals decide on what treatments are best going forward.

asbestos in lungs - normal lungs and those with symptoms of asbestos disease
The effects of having asbestos in the lungs

Is there a cure for asbestos in the lungs?

Once asbestos fibers are inhaled into your lungs, the body can’t naturally dispose of them, so the fibers become lodged in your lungs and can spread over a long period of time, eventually causing health complications.

There is currently no cure for asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, as the damage to the lungs has already been done by the time they are diagnosed.

However, there are some treatments available that can help to ease the symptoms.

For example, when it comes to asbestosis, treatments that are available include:-

Treatments that are currently available for mesothelioma include:-

Did you find this article interesting?  Then check out our other interesting articles below.

For all your asbestos training needs call us on 0161 761 4424 or visit to book an asbestos training course.

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Published Aug 27, 2019
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